To no one’s surprise, most of us who set New Year’s resolutions fail (88 percent, according to one study). And yet, we keep making them. It seems there’s something irresistible about the idea of a new year; a new chance to wipe the slate clean and start all over as stronger, thinner, healthier, kinder, more organized, more successful, more fun. Ourselves, but better.
We don’t magically become new people in January, but in government, the turn of the year really does bring change: On Monday, three new members joined two veterans on Charlottesville City Council, and on January 8, a new state legislative session begins, with a Democratic-led government for the first time in a generation. There’s an opportunity to make some major shifts, and for this issue, we asked a few community leaders to share three changes they’d like to see here in Charlottesville. Their answers range from better public transit to more trees to, as Haven director Stephen Hitchcock wrote, “Affordable housing; affordable housing; affordable housing.”
The internet will tell you that it’s best to be specific and to spread your resolutions throughout the year, rather than trying to change everything at once. But there’s also something valuable in thinking big. As filmmaker Brian Wimer told us, we need to use our collective imaginations to imagine how we want to live, not just five days from now (“that’s parking lots and like buying stock in Blockbuster”), but in 50 or 100 years. “If we want a better city,” he says, “we need to ask ‘What if?’”